Black Friday comes to the UK with violence in Asda aisles

Supermarket workers have had more to clean up than just a jam jar spillage in aisle four, after Asda stores were hit by Black Friday bargain-hunting madness.

Keen to get their hands on the most lucrative deals, hordes of shoppers descended on the famously low-cost supermarket to revel in the American sales holiday that's gaining traction in the UK. Since being bought by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Asda has fully embraced the event which traditionally takes place every year on the day after Thanksgiving.

Cut-price televisions and tablets sold out in seconds as excited shoppers piled into stores across the country with pound signs shining in their eyes.

Things quickly devolved into chaos, however, as people’s obsession with bagging the best bargains led to stampedes, broken bones and even arrests.

The hashtag #asdablackfriday started trending on Twitter as reports of mounting hysteria flooded in. In Belfast, a woman was hospitalised with a suspected broken arm after being caught in a stampede over discount televisions, while elsewhere a heavily pregnant woman was violently shoved by a crowd containing pensioners who were also knocked to the ground.

In a Bristol branch of the store, a male shopper became embroiled in a heated row with supermarket staff after being told he could only buy one cut-price TV. He was escorted away by security, before having to be restrained by five members of staff. After cutting one of their faces, he was arrested by the police.

When contacted by ITProPortal for comment, Asda refused to offer anything specific on the incidents. It did say, however, that “This is the first time Black Friday has been done on this scale in stores across the UK and our customers were eager to take advantage of the great offers available to them. We planned for high demand and the half a million Black Friday products on offer to our customers have been selling quickly since 8am.”

Touching tentatively on the thorny issue of the bargain brawls, it continued “Throughout the event the safety of our customers is of vital importance and to ensure our stores can cope with the extra footfall we have full security teams in our stores and extra colleagues to help assist customers in the aisles.”

This is the first time that the UK has emulated the American holiday on such a wide scale, and in comparison, the British frenzy has been rather tame. Across the pond in Virginia, a man was stabbed after an argument over a Walmart parking space with his attacker reportedly slicing through his arm to the bone. Meanwhile in Illinois, a man was gunned down as he fled a store on suspicion of shoplifting.

It's claimed that we call this 24 hour period of deal-mania Black Friday because the day is an opportunity for retailers’ balance sheets to escape the red and get back into the black. After looking through the photos of today’s carnage, though, perhaps the name will begin to take on its more sinister connotations.